MGB to review Aquino EO on mining agreements
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) is set to review the executive order on mining agreements issued by the past administration, as stakeholders consider this an investment dampener for the country.

Former president Benigno Aquino III issued EO 79 disallowing the approval of new mineral agreements until legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms takes effect.

“We are starting to review it, we are looking into the provisions, what it has accomplished, its intention, if it’s still needed and if it’s in the best interest of the country,” Environment Undersecretary and MGB director Mario Luis Jacinto said.

The issuance implemented reforms in the mining sector despite the existing Philippine Mining Act of 1995, which is considered one of the best mining laws in the world.

Stakeholders consider the EO a dampener as far as investments are concerned, as gross domestic product could have grown to 10 percent had mining been allowed to flourish. The mining industry contributes a measly 0.7 percent to the country’s GDP.

“We have a good mining law. EO 79 is something that is not needed, it is just a matter of making sure everything is clear,” Jacinto said.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said the unstable policy regime of the last administration resulted in staggering loss of opportunity as no new mining agreements were issued and the industry’s fiscal and regulatory regime came under very close scrutiny from the executive, legislative, and judicial departments.

Amid the government’s ongoing crackdown on irresponsible mining firms leading to suspension of several operations, Jacinto maintained that MGB would continue to formulate policies that are most responsive to the industry.

“We will perform in the highest degree of professionalism, an institution that will respond proactively with the industry that it serves,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jacinto also debunked claims that there might be a conflict between the mandate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its attached agency.

“I believe there is balance in the existing structure now. The developments that we are taking should be on the basis of what is best for the community, for the people and for the country,” he said.

“Even if it’s a separate department, you still have to comply with environment regulations. We need a balance on the development of natural resources and on environmental protection and enhancement,” Jacinto said.

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